blood bag

The American Red Cross is hosting blood drives at The FIGAT7TH Blood Drive, located at 735 S. Figueroa Street in Downtown, on August 11. 

To make an appointment, visit redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code FIGAT7TH. All donations are now tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

The Red Cross is urging healthy individuals to give blood to restock the shelves for patients battling disease and facing the unexpected. Whole blood is frequently given to trauma patients and people undergoing surgery. 

“Doing your part to stay healthy through this coronavirus pandemic takes many forms. One way you can make a difference is to donate blood if you’re eligible to donate. Our nation’s blood supply is vital to public health. Your donation could help save the lives of other COVID-19 patients,” said Christina Welch, the interim regional communications director, Southern California Region, American Red Cross. 

For blood donation safety precautions and to protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, individuals who do not feel well or who believe they may be ill with COVID-19 should postpone their donation. Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions, including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff. These high standards have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive. This is in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.

“COVID-19 patients develop antibodies in their blood. Proteins that might help fight the infection. So only those with complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days are qualified to donate. If you’re healthy and feel well, contact a local donation center so you can donate blood,” Welch said. 

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

On the day of their donation and before arriving at the blood drive, blood donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their predonation reading and health history questionnaire online. The instructions are at redcrossblood.org/rapidpass or use the Blood Donor App.

Donation appointments can be made for the coming days and weeks by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. 

“Blood donations for one unit of red blood cells take about 8 to 10 minutes. The blood is then sent to an ALYX machine for processing and testing, which takes about one hour and a half. Two to three days later, the blood is sent to a hospital, where it is distributed to hospital patients who need it,” Welch said. 

As a thank you for helping ensure a stable blood supply, those who give blood before September 3 will receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card via email, courtesy of Amazon. They will be automatically entered for a chance to win a trip for four to Cedar Point in Ohio or Knott’s Berry Farm. This is redeemable through the 2021 season. 

Regarding the American Red Cross’ plan for blood donations during and after the coronavirus, “The American Red Cross will continue to work with health officials to meet the hospital and patients’ needs,” Welch said.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters, supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood, teaches skills that save lives, provides international humanitarian aid and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.